Amateur Radio

Northern SPIRIT

About the Satellites

Ex-Alta 2, AuroraSat, YukonSat will be registered with the ITU under an amateur radio designation. The satellites’ callsigns are TBD.

For more information about the amateur radio coordination, visit the IARU satellites webpage https://www.iaru.org/reference/satellites/. Scroll to “Frequency Coordination Status”, follow the link, and click on “Satellites for which frequencies have been coordinated”, then search in the page for AlbertaSat or the names of each satellite.

Nominal service will be 4k8 GMSK/GFSK or 4GFSK (TBC) on 437.875 MHz for all three satellites. Faster service could be 9k6 or 19k2 GMSK/GFSK or 4GFSK (TBC) on 436.705 MHz, as well as on 2428.000 MHz S-band, but usually just over Canada.

Current expected service: TBC. Updated HH:mm MMM DD, YYYY UTC (TBC).

Deployment: HH:mm UTC MMM DD, YYYY (TBC).

First Beacon: Received by TBD! Coming Soon! See https://albertasat.ca/northern-spirit-beacon-format/ for details.

The Northern SPIRIT satellites will be equipped to do AX.25. Other protocol details coming soon!

Useful information is available through several websites. A few are linked here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubesat_Space_Protocol

https://github.com/libcsp/libcsp

How to Track

Most satellites are tracked by radio detection or triangulation. The knowledge gained on the satellite’s position is published in the Two Line Element format. The Northern SPIRIT satellites will be deployed from the International Space Station, so that will be a good place to start until we get better tracking information.

TLE: TBD

Ex-Alta 2 gets new TLE’s daily. Check out TBD webpage. 

AuroraSat gets new TLE’s daily. Check out TBD webpage.

YukonSat gets new TLE’s daily. Check out TBD webpage.

Updated MMM DD, YYYY.

Software such as Orbitron or GPredict can be used on personal computers.

How to Decode

The beacon format for the Northern SPIRIT satellites will be available on a dedicated page coming soon here. The beacon is programmed to broadcast every 30 seconds.

https://albertasat.ca/northern-spirit-beacon-format/

If you need more information for your setup to successfully receive and decode signals from the Northern SPIRIT satellites, please use the Contact Us page. We’re happy to share what we have.

How to Contribute

Any files, recordings, or information collected by radio amateurs can be sent to AlbertaSat via an upload portal TBD, or please use the Contact Us page. Any further questions or concerns can also be sent to the AlbertaSat team via the Contact Us page. We can normally respond within 24 hours.

Our Hardware

The primary radio for interfacing with the satellite is an Ettus B200mini SDR.

Currently we are able to transmit and receive in the UHF band. Upgrades in the near term will enable transmit and receive in the VHF band and the S-band.

We have webcams streaming photos from the roof where our antennas are located. (If nothing appears in the feed, the mast may be lowered for maintenance.)

www.carisma.ca/webcams

This section was written by Charles Nokes/VE6CNK. AlbertaSat has over 50 members with basic amateur radio certification and about 10 members with advanced amateur radio certification – all of whom are excited to learn and share in the field of amateur radio.

*This section is no longer being updated.*

About the Satellite

Ex-Alta 1 was registered with the ITU under an amateur radio designation. Our satellite callsign is ON03CA. (Oscar November Zero Three Charlie Alpha).

Nominal service was 4k8 GMSK on 436.705 MHz. Faster service could be 9k6 or 19k2 GMSK on 436.705 MHz, but usually just over Canada.

Current expected service: 4k8 GMSK on 436.705 MHz. Updated 21:44 June 17, 2017 UTC.

Deployment: 08:55 UTC May 26, 2017.

First Beacon: Received by KR01 team, received and decoded by JA0CAW! See https://albertasat.ca/ex-alta-1-beacon-format/ for details.

Ex-Alta 1 did not use AX.25. Instead, it used a CCSDS-derived packet structure that encloses the Cubesat Space Protocol originally developed by Aalborg University and Gomspace.

Information on this is available through several websites. A few are linked here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubesat_Space_Protocol

https://github.com/libcsp/libcsp

How to Track

Most satellites are tracked by radio detection or triangulation. The knowledge gained on the satellite’s position is published in the Two Line Element format. . Ex-Alta 1 was deployed from the International Space Station, so that was a good place to start until we got better tracking information.

TLE:
Ex-Alta 1 gets new TLE’s daily. Check out http://www.n2yo.com/satellite/?s=42734 

Updated May 26, 2017.

Software such as Orbitron or GPredict can be used on personal computers, and the QB50 mission server can be used to visualize locations in real time on any device.

Check out the mission server homepage for a live map of all QB50 satellites and ground stations!

https://upload.qb50.eu/

How to Decode

A very useful blog to read is available from Daniel Estévez/EA4GPZ/MOHXM. This blog details contacts with GOMX-3, which flew the same radio as Ex-Alta 1. While the beacon format and information sent during downlink are not similar, the modulation, encoding, antenna, and protocol are identical. Read about it here, and try searching for GOMX to see all the relevant blog posts.

http://destevez.net/

Also from EA4GPZ is a complete git repository with GNURadio libraries that can be used to decode CSP packets from Ex-Alta 1 with minor changes.

https://github.com/daniestevez/gr-satellites

The beacon format for Ex-Alta 1 can be found on a dedicated page here. The beacon is programmed to broadcast every 30 seconds.

https://albertasat.ca/ex-alta-1-beacon-format/

If you need more information for your setup to successfully receive and decode signals from Ex-Alta 1, please use the Contact Us page. We’re happy to share what we have.

How to Contribute

Any files, recordings, or information collected by radio amateurs can be uploaded to the QB50 mission server through the link below. Be sure to select the correct satellite – be it Ex-Alta 1 or any other QB50 satellite – from the dropdown menu.  Also select the upload type. An account on the mission server website is required so that all uploads can be matched to a name or callsign, and a running tally of successful contacts can be maintained.

https://upload.qb50.eu/upload/

Any further questions or concerns can be sent to the AlbertaSat team via the Contact Us page. We can normally respond within 24 hours.

Our Hardware

The primary radio for interfacing with the satellite is an ground station copy of the one being flown. We also have an Ettus B200mini for interfacing with other satellites.

Currently we are able to transmit and receive in the UHF band, and receive only in the VHF band.

We have a webcam streaming photos from the roof where our antennas are located. (If nothing appears in the feed, the mast may be lowered for maintenance.)

http://129.128.208.184/cgi-bin/video.cgi

This section was written by Collin Cupido/VA6ISS. AlbertaSat has over 30 members with basic amateur radio certification and about 10 members with advanced amateur radio certification – all of whom are excited to learn and share in the field of amateur radio.

https://web.archive.org/web/20180904015259/http://129.128.208.184/cgi-bin/video.cgi

This page was last updated May 2021